"Today I want to say as a Christian, as a priest, to all the LGBTI community, I am deeply sorry for our part as religious people, in the pain you have experienced across the ages. I have a dream that in my lifetime, I will hear all the leaders of all our great faith traditions making the same apology."
This apology came during the closing prayer session of the assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), held from October 30 to November 8 in Busan, South Korea. It was given by Father Michael Lapsley, Director of the Institute for Healing of Memories, which is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa.
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is a very unusual "holiday." The tone and intention of the day can easily be misunderstood, especially by those who may be well-meaning, but new to transgender communities. Here are ten things every Lutheran and TDOR planner should know about Transgender Day of Remembrance.
ReconcilingWorks is working in coalition with seven other church-based LGBT advocacy groups at the World Council of Churches (WCC) assembly being held in Busan, South Korea. ReconcilingWorks staff member Tim Fisher, is representing our organization at the WCC this week.
The coalition, called the Create Safe Space Caucus, released the following statement today:
For Immediate Release
From: Create Safe Space Caucus
Date: 31 October 2013
Contact: Gabriele Mayer
Re: World Council of Churches – General Assembly Opening Day
Busan, Republic of South Korea
The Create Safe Space Caucus offers a mixed response to the opening day of the World Council of Churches General Assembly in Busan.
The opening worship, plenary and business session were well grounded in the gospel values of love, justice and peace. His Holiness Karenkin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians reminded participants, “Each of us is different… Our mutual faith in Christ—truly our love for the Lord—is what unites us.” He proclaimed that Christ encourages us “to regard our fellow human beings, without exception, in the full dignity and holiness of their personhood.”
These values emanated from the liturgies, presentations and reports on this first day. However, for the Create Safe Space Caucus the absence of any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity created the sense of invisibility. How is it that in the Secretary General’s report, the Moderator’s report and in every other word, spoken or sung, that such silence should exist on such a critical issue facing the churches throughout the world? A simple acknowledgment that this is an issue facing the church would have been a step in the right direction.
Silence on sexual orientation and gender identity perpetuates the stigma and discrimination faced by marginalized people and increases vulnerabilities. This is particularly poignant today, as many will observe Thursdays in Black, a movement towards a world without rape and violence. Sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity are part of what it means to be human. Thus, these are concerns which are part of life in every community throughout the world, including other marginalized communities which may also feel invisible.
Any serious effort toward justice and peace must address stigma and discrimination in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. At the very least, the concern must be named along with a commitment to creating safe spaces for constructive dialogue.
The Create Safe Space Caucus is an international collaborative committed making spaces at the WCC General Assembly where the invisibility of issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity can be brought to light; where people may share their stories and witness to the worth and dignity God has bestowed on every human being, and which human judgment cannot set aside.
Create Safe Space Conversations will take place at the lunch break at 12.15 on Friday and Wednesday, 1 and 6 of November in Bexco Room 101. Key participants in these conversations will be Elders from Africa, including Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda.
The heart of the Reformation, "the doctrine by which the church stands or falls," as Luther wrote, is "justification by faith." To people dreadfully anxious about their salvation, Luther declared that our behavior--whether good or bad--had nothing to do with fixing our relationship with God. God fixes the relationship ... as a gift. Being true to the Lutheran confessions means using the principle of "justification by faith" to ask afresh in every era, "what shall we say now in order to be life-giving today?"
Four hundred and ninety-six years later, ReconcilingWorks is asking YOU that same question. What will we say, what will we do, that’s life-giving for LGBT people?
One of our own is reaching out across denominations to do the work of welcome and inclusion!
ReconcilingWorks would like to lift JamieAnn Meyers up in our prayers as she presents at Room for All's third National Conference. For more information about the conference visit: www.roomforall.com/events/national-conferences
This workshop will give participants a foundation for understanding transgender and bisexual people and the complex issues they face. A combination of activities, including storytelling, Q and A and group brainstorming sessions will address such things as terminology, myths and stereotypes, the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation, participants’ own gender and sexual identities, gender-conforming and heterosexual privilege, “coming out,” and how to respond as allies and people of faith to trans* and bisexual individuals and their communities.
Dr. JamieAnn Meyers serves as transgender representative and board member of ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation, and is a member of GenderFold in the UCC. She is also a member of T* Forward within the Interfaith Working Group, an organizer of TransLutherans within ReconcilingWorks, and a member of the transgender working group in the Institute for Welcoming Resources. JamieAnn takes a social justice and anti-oppression approach to her activism and advocacy, which is focused on transgender and bisexual issues and trainings for allies across the boundaries of all LGBTQIA communities.
What is GLSEN's Ally Week?
GLSEN and students across the country, often as members of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) or similar student clubs, will organize Ally Week on October 21-25, 2013 in schools and communities nationwide.
Ally Week is a week for students to engage in a national conversation and action to become better allies to LGBT youth. This doesn't only mean straight and cisgender allies, but everyone! Read further to find out more about how anyone can be a better ally against anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language, bullying and harassment in America's schools.
What is an Ally?
We refer to Allies as people who do not necessarily identify as LGBT, but support this community by standing against the bullying and harassment LGBT folks face. Anyone who takes a stand against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment can be an ally.
Why do we need an Ally Week?
The unfortunate truth is that anti-LGBT bullying, violence and harassment are not only commonplace in America's schools, but can occur in our congregations as well.
Why is ReconcilingWorks involved?
ReconcilingWorks understands that bullying doesn't just happen in our schools, but in our congregations and communities as well. As people of faith, we can show God's love by standing up for victims of bullying behaivor wherever they may be.
Actions in a minute:
- Make a personal and intentional vow to explore what it means to become an Ally to LGBT identified youth.
- Tweet about GLSEN’s Ally Week using hashtag: #AllyWeek and #BetterAllies TWEET!
- Post a link to our Ally Week website on your Facebook page
- Learn how to become an Ally to trans* and gender nonconforming youth here.
Actions for an hour:
- Pay attention to how often you hear anti-LGBT bias language in your life, empathy is often the driver of change.
- Print out our “I am an Ally” selfie resource and post it on the GLSEN Facebook page
- Purchase and send a Safe Space Kit for your classroom, or your alma mater
- Read GLSEN’s Educator’s Guide to Ally Week!
- Learn how to support Trans* and gender nonconforming students.
Actions for an afternoon:
- Learn about LGBT students experiences in school by reading GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey Executive Summary
- Seek out Power, Privilege and Oppression training workshops at an LGBT Center near you.
- Ask about someone’s experience and create space for story sharing.
- Build a lesson plan to help your class think deeply about the ways homophobia, transphobia, racism and classism impact students on a daily basis. For reference use: Working with LGBT Students of Color: A Guide for Educators
- Learn about how to become a GSA (Gay, Straight Alliance) advisor. If you are already an advisor watch a webinar about supporting your GSA.
This National Coming Out Day, ReconcilingWorks wants to lift up those in our movement who have been out for decades and those who may be coming out today.
Every year on National Coming Out Day, we celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or as an ally. Today folks from all over the nation are celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is one in 10.
And coming out STILL MATTERS. When people in our communities and congregations know someone
Dear Partners in Ministry,
ReconcilingWorks has partnered with the "Faiths Calling" project calling on Lutherans to act on the recent Churchwide Assembly memorial regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
We are mobilizing both ecumenically and inter-faithfully with other people of faith to call our Senators on September 17 and demand an end to workplace discrimination against the LGBT community. ENDA would finally make it illegal to fire or refuse to hire someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
ENDA passed out of committee in July and is moving to the Senate floor this fall. There has never been a more important time for the faith community to demonstrate its support for this landmark legislation.
But first we need YOUR help. We need you to help us get the word out!
Would you please invite your friends to ReconcilingWorks' Facebook event. ReconcilingWorks will send out a reminder Sept 17 to FB event attendees who RSVP.
Then on Sept 17, call 1-888-897-0174. An operator will direct your call to the appropriate senate offices.
Tell your senator "As a person of faith, I believe that all hardworking people, including transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people, should have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.
Ask your senator "to cosponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – a commonsense bill that would prohibit this sort of discrimination in federal law."
Will you pick up the phone?
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, passed a resolution calling for voting rights for all citizens to be guaranteed. The resolution was submitted by Kwame Pitts, Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
Bishop Wayne Miller, Metropolitan Chicago Synod, spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that the Supreme Court decision to strike down portions of the Voting Rights Act “will not stand.” Pr. Kimberly Vaughn, Northeast Ohio Synod, spoke eloquently in support of the resolution, calling out the church for the silence she has heard on this subject thus far from this church.
The resolution called for local, state and federal governments to not only guarantee the right to vote to all citizens but also to eliminate all laws, ordinances or regulations that discriminate on racial or ethnic bases in the exercise of that right.
The resolution further calls on the presiding and synodical bishops to support publically and advocate for legislative proposals that guarantee all citizens the right to vote. It asks the Conference of Bishops to include an educational session on voting rights in their 2014 meetings. Members of the church are asked to advocate and engaging in local efforts in support of voting rights. Churchwide staff is asked to identify and publicize resources advocating for voting rights.
The resolution passed 811 to 39.
ReconcilingWorks celebrates the election of The Rev. Wm Chris Boerger to a six-year term as Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on August 16, 2013, at the Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, said “Pr. Chris Boerger has been an ally for full participation for many years. His prophetic witness in favor of civil marriage equality for same-gender couples before the Washington State legislature was remarkable in its clarity. Chris ordained our own regional director, Pr. Kari Lipke, and has been an avid supporter of clergy in same-gender relationships as their bishop. Secretary-Elect Boerger is a fine parliamentarian and has an excellent working knowledge of the governing processes and documents of the denomination. We applaud his election and look forward to the ways in which we may partner with him in the years ahead.”
The Rev. Tita Valeriano, ordained Lutheran minister, pastor, mission developer, openly-gay, partnered, mother, member of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries’s Proclaim, presided as celebrant at the Friday worship service during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
A graduate of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Tita has served as a congregational pastor, as Secretary for Youth in Church and Society for the Lutheran World Federation, as a campus pastor, and as the Regional Officer for the Lutheran World Federation located in the ELCA offices in Chicago.
ReconcilingWorks celebrates this historic moment and Tita’s witness and leadership towards full inclusion.
Of her life journey, Tita has said “To have been born in the Philippines, a third generation Lutheran and the youngest in a family of twelve children, to be born with all the gifts and weaknesses that I have, everything of who I am and now serving in this context of North America; those, I believe, are gifts of God to me. Of course I did not choose my gender, or my nationality, or my sexual orientation, but I have been honored to be a participant in this journey God has given me, to live out these gifts."
- Memorial calling for opening dialog across the church about ministering to same-gender couples passed by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly
- ENDA Memorial calling for a fully inclusive act preventing discrimination on employment passed by the 2013 Churchwide Assembly
- UAFA Memorial calling for comprehensive immigration reform that includes the families of LGBT people passed by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly
- ReconcilingWorks celebrates the Election of Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as Presiding Bishop
- ReconcilingWorks at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly
- ReconcilingWorks Applauds Statement from California Bishops on Same-Gender Marriage
- ReconcilingWorks Rejoices at Supreme Court Decisions on Same-Gender Marriage
- Lutherans Elect First Bishop Who is Openly Gay
- ReconcilingWorks Expresses Disappointment, Calls on ELCA to Support Protections for All Families
- ReconcilingWorks urges participation in May 17 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia